Timetable changes would hit Kirkcaldy worse than any Scottish station, politicians warn

Scotrail delays - Kirkcaldy station (Pic: Fife Free Press)Scotrail delays - Kirkcaldy station (Pic: Fife Free Press)
Scotrail delays - Kirkcaldy station (Pic: Fife Free Press)
Kirkcaldy is set to lose more than 40 train services to and from Edinburgh each day if Scotrail’s contentious plans to shake-up local services next year get the go ahead, councillors have warned.

And they have told the Transport Minister that the impact on the Lang Toun will be greater than any other station in Scotland - and that is simply unacceptable.

The warning from Kirkcaldy area committee - endorsed by politicians across the political spectrum - adds to the pressure on Scotrail as it puts its plans out to consultation.

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The rail operator needs Scottish Government approval for its revamp which would leave Fifers with a poorer, less frequent service.

Councillor Neil Crooks (Pic: George McLuskie)Councillor Neil Crooks (Pic: George McLuskie)
Councillor Neil Crooks (Pic: George McLuskie)

Kirkcaldy area committee unanimously agreed to lay out its concerns in a letter to Graham Dey MSP, Transport Minister who will have the final say on the proposed changes which are due to come into effect in next year.

Councillor Neil Crooks, convener, outlined the full extent of the impact on rail services to Kirkcaldy commuters, and warned they would “strike at the heart of our area as a key commuter town and a place to invest.”

He listed 43 services lost daily to and from Edinburgh - including two peak trains.

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Direct services to Newcastle, Glasgow, London, Aberdeen Perth and Inverness would be scrapped, and the Intercity Aberdeen-London service would no longer stop in Kirkcaldy.

Picture Michael Gillen.Picture Michael Gillen.
Picture Michael Gillen.
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Mr Crooks said such drastic cuts would have “an instant negative effect on the economic recovery of mid Fife’s largest town” adding: “It would undo at a stroke the significant progress being made.”

Scotrail’s timetable shake-up comes as the rail operators looks to recover from the pandemic which saw commuter numbers crash by almost 90%.

Unveiling the proposals, David Simpson, operations director, spoke of offering “a different service.”

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He said: “The significant cost of running the railway following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic means it’s essential that the railway meets the changing needs of customers, as well as provides the taxpayer with best value for money.

“Our timetable proposals do that.”

But it is clear Scotrail faces significant political pressure to re-think its plans for Kirkcaldy.

Last month, SNP members of the area committee and MSP David Torrance spoke out - while the Greens and Labour have already voiced concerns.

Mr Torrance branded the reduction of the twice hourly service to Edinburgh via Kinghorn to just one as “disastrous for the area” adding: “These are lifeline services for local villages, allowing people to work and study.”

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Now the area committee has urged the Scottish Government to reject the proposals and “come forward with a comprehensive plan to encourage the public back onto rail services safely following the COVID pandemic impact.”

Fifers still have time to air their concerns in the consultation before the proposals land on the desk of Mr Dey.

He said the exercise offered “a real opportunity for customers and businesses to help shape a reliable and responsive timetable change” adding: “Organisations up and down the country are reflecting on how they can provide great customer service while at the same time ensuring their businesses are fit for the future.

“Rail is no different and that is why it is essential Scotrail review changes in travel patterns so that timetables best meet demand.”

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